Coming off of an overtime loss the previous week to the Indianapolis Colts, the Green Bay Packers steamrolled the Chicago Bears for a 41-25 win to take a commanding lead in the NFC North. The Packers entered Week 12 with a 3-3 record in their past six games but tuned up their division rival enough to look like a serious playoff contender.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense put up 35 or more points for the sixth time this season. More importantly, judging by its performance tonight, the defense appears to be rounding into shape.
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STORY OF THE GAME
Aaron Rodgers got off to a hot start, finishing the first half 15-for-18 for 128 yards and three touchdowns. The same could not be said for Mitchell Trubisky, who threw an interception and committed two turnover-worthy-plays by halftime.
It looked like the Packers’ middling run defense threatened the team’s chances to win when David Montgomery ripped off a career-high 57-yard gain on the Bears’ first possession of the game. Instead, Matt Nagy stayed away from him until it was too little too late in spite of the fact Montgomery racked up 90 total yards from scrimmage on eight touches through the first two quarters. The second-year pro could have exploited a real weakness in the Packers’ defense — forcing their linebackers to cover out in space. Christian Kirksey struggled in particular, and Trubisky completed 9-of-10 passes against the veteran for 82 yards and two touchdowns on first review.
Nothing disrupted the rhythm of the Packers’ offense, not even an injury to Corey Linsley in the first quarter. Elgton Jenkins, who’s played at least 25 snaps at every position along the offensive line, slid over from guard to center in Linsley’s absence and the unit continued to roll.
Under Nagy’s direction, the Chicago offense has regressed in each of the past three seasons, and the Packers defense looked atypically dominant with three takeaways and a scoop-and-score courtesy of Preston Smith. Second-year safety Darnell Savage also collected two interceptions and denied anything in coverage.
Nine tight ends have either scored a touchdown, gained 50 or more yards or both against the Chicago defense through 11 weeks. Robert Tonyan, coming off of his fourth game this season with five or more catches, continued his latest run of form tonight when he caught a 39-yard touchdown pass in the second half and finished the game with five catches for 67 yards and a score.
The Packers offense transformed into a dynamic running attack late in the third quarter with a 24-point lead. Green Bay’s front bullied Chicago in the trenches, allowing Rogers to finish the game untouched and the running backs to rush for 163 yards and a touchdown on a combined 34 carries. The effectiveness of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the ground fed back into the passing game and provided Rodgers opportunities to complete three touchdown passes off of play-action.
Jon Runyan Jr. entered the game at guard when Jenkins moved over to center in place of the injured Linsley. Runyan Jr. appeared for 48 snaps and allowed himself to be beaten by a defender just twice.
Davante Adams is PFF’s highest-graded wide receiver through Week 11 (91.8), and Jaylon Johnson got a taste of his ability in this game. Targeted five times, Johnson allowed three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. Cole Kmet appears to firmly be the starting tight end for the Bears, logging 51 of 65 snaps on offense and 28 more than his teammate Jimmy Graham. Darnell Mooney did not contribute much in terms of box-score production, but his 55 snaps indicate he looks like WR2 for Chicago behind Allen Robinson II.
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